The US House of Representatives passed a spending bill last week that contains provisions establishing a national ID card, and the Senate is poised to approve the measure in the next few days. This week marks the American public’s last chance to convince their Senators they don’t want to live in a nation that demands papers from its citizens as they go about their lives.
Absent a political miracle in the Senate, within two years every American will need a conforming national ID card to participate in ordinary activities. This REAL ID Act establishes a massive, centrally-coordinated database of highly personal information about American citizens: at a minimum their name, date of birth, place of residence, Social Security number, and physical characteristics. The legislation also grants open-ended authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to require biometric information on IDs in the future. This means your harmless looking driver’s license could contain a retina scan, fingerprints, DNA information, or radio frequency technology.
Think this sounds farfetched? Read the REAL ID Act, HR 418, for yourself. Its text is available on the Library of Congress website. A careful reading also reveals that states will be required to participate in the “Drivers License Agreement,” which was crafted by DMV lobbyists years ago. This agreement creates a massive database of sensitive information on American citizens that can be shared with Canada and Mexico!
Terrorism is the excuse given for virtually every new power grab by the federal government, and the national ID is no exception. But federal agencies have tried to create a national ID for years, long before the 9-11 attacks. In fact, a 1996 bill sought to do exactly what the REAL ID Act does: transform state drivers’ licenses into de facto national ID cards. At the time, Congress was flooded with calls by angry constituents and the bill ultimately died.